The 2016 Tech Lunch Pail Awards continue on today with our Breakout Player of the Year Award. Once again, there were multiple choices and as with all our awards, there was not a unanimous choice. With that said, we chose someone who may break a Virginia Tech career records next year.
Junior wide receiver and Belk Bowl MVP Cam Phillips is our Breakout Hokie of the Year after having by far the best season of his career. Phillips was the Hokies’ second-best pass catcher this past season with his move to the slot really allowing him to flourish in Justin Fuente’s new offense with 76 receptions, 983 receiving yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns plus 30 carries for 140 rushing yards with all those numbers being career highs. To put that in perspective, Phillips’s had 49 receptions for 582 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in 2015.
The move to the slot for Phillips has proven to be quite important as nickel cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers have not been able to cover Phillips with the junior receiver getting better and better as the season went along with a season high in receiving yards in the Belk Bowl, a season high in receptions in the ACC Championship, and at least 6 receptions in 7 of the Hokies’ final 8 games.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, the Hokies absolutely should keep Phillips in the slot even with the departures of Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Yes, teams may adjust defensively and put one of their top cornerbacks in the slot, but Phillips has proven that he is best working out of the slot and definitely has the potential to have an ever bigger season in 2017 along with breaking some of Isaiah Ford’s school records.
Phillips beat out Tremaine Edmunds for this award after Edmunds had a big season in his first year as a starter with 106 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 9 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 pass breakups. Edmunds is going to be a star and definitely has the potential to be an All-American level linebacker next season.
Greg Stroman wasn’t healthy all season, but he definitely stepped up his game this season as he had 13 tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and a blocked field goal in 11 games and 9 starts. Yosuah Nijman was the Hokies’ starter at left tackle for the full season and was not too shabby on the blind side showing plenty of promise and definitely is going to be a stronghold of the Virginia Tech offensive line for the next two seasons.
Congrats to Cam Phillips on being the Breakout Hokie of the Year. Coming up tomorrow, the Defensive Hokie of the Year.